The final candidates in the running to be Honolulu’s 12th police chief are scheduled to answer questions from the public during a live televised conversation next month.

On Thursday, PBS Hawaii announced that the finalists will appear on a special 90-minute episode of “Insights on PBS Hawaii” hosted by Yunji de Nies on May 19.

The event will feature the top three or four candidates after the current list of seven is whittled down, Honolulu Police Commission Chair Shannon Alivado said. They will field questions sent by the community via email, phone or Facebook Live.

“We saw this as a trusted venue that was somewhat of a forum where folks can interact,” Alivado said Thursday during an interview with the Civil Beat Editorial Board.

Honolulu Police Commission Chair Shannon Alivado and Commissioner Jerry Gibson.
Honolulu Police Commission Chairwoman Shannon Alivado and Vice Chairman Jerry Gibson say they expect the next police chief to be named by the end of May. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Commissioner Jerry Gibson said the televised event was envisioned as a way for the commission to keep the selection process as transparent as possible.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can in that vein because it’s so important,” Gibson told Civil Beat. “The public has a huge stake in this, obviously, and so I think that’s what we’re all thinking of, just another point of transparency.”

The commission has faced criticism over the months’ long search for a new police chief as it has been bogged down by a lengthy procurement process for a consultant to lead the process.

Gibson and Alivado said the commission hopes to announce the next police chief in the weeks following the televised event.

“Right around June 1, by the end of May, we hope that we have a selection for chief,” Gibson said.

Maui also recently hired a new police chief following a televised interview with the finalists. However, Gibson and Alivado said that Maui’s event did not directly inspire the upcoming televised conversation with candidates in Honolulu. Instead, Alivado said that the commission’s intention was to boost the finalists’ interaction with the public.

“We reached out to PBS just as a thought, whether they’d be open to it, and they seemed interested,” Alivado said. “We’re happy that it’s actually going to go forward.”

There are currently seven candidates still in the running for the position. The consulting firm PSI Services LLC, which was selected in December, is to present the finalists to the commission after a three-day event scheduled to begin on May 9, that will require candidates to complete oral and written exercises.

Alivado said that one of those exercises will focus on “real-time communication” with the public and media, a quality people indicated the next police chief should have in a community survey posted by the commission in February.

“That’s been one of the primary highlights and characteristics that we’ve been asking for and I think that’s been loud and clear heard through our survey as well,” Alivado said. “A communicator not only from the media but also from the public with respect to timeliness and just being a good responder.”

Eight candidates were selected from a field of 12 earlier this month after the applicants participated in a written exam on March 17.

But one candidate withdrew from consideration before Monday’s deadline to apply for the upcoming assessment process, citing personal reasons, the commission’s executive officer James Yuen said Wednesday at a meeting.

The Honolulu Police Commission began the search for the city’s new police chief after Susan Ballard retired from the position on June 1 amid criticism over her performance.

HPD Interim Chief Rade Vanic took the helm of the department after Ballard left and was in the running for the permanent position of police chief for months before withdrawing his name from consideration last month.

So far, PSI Services LLC has been interfacing with the candidates and the police commission will not know the identities of the finalists until they are announced, which is expected to be around May 12.

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